California narrowly avoids heatwave blackouts

14 September 2007

Soaring demand in California as residents reached for the air conditioning in the face of soaring summer temperatures led to the California ISO coming close to issuing a stage 2 alert in preparation for load shedding.

Consumer response to conservation requests saw more than 1000MWe of forecast usage across the state cut bringing a system peak of 47,843MWe as a series of hot days cut reserve margins to just 7%.

The peak demand was forecast at 49,500MWe against an all-time record peak demand of 50,270MWe.

A regional heat wave is lowering imports from the southwest while a low hydroelectricity level throughout the state – about 1GWe below normal – has resulted from the dry winter.

A Stage Two Electrical Emergency is declared when reserves drop below 5% and at this level, large commercial customers on interruptible contracts will see supplies curtailed.

According to ISO vice president of operations Jim Detmers: “Regional hot temperatures drove high energy demand in many parts of the West.”

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